INTERVIEW WITH REG BY DEE (peaceful activist and fighter for Human Rights
When I first received a letter from Reggie in December, he said to me "You know what makes no sense at all? My having almost all my clothes on, I mean all the clothes I own, including head covering and an ugly green jacket, just to stay warm in my cage. I'm dressed as if I were outside." Reggie is a fighter, a fighter for human rights and member of DRIVE, an online death row organization that uses peaceful measures to fight against prison abuse, and injustices. Listed on the DRIVE site are numerous articles and poetry Reggie has written.
Reggie was one of the participants of the Texas Death Row Hunger Strike, in which several inmates protested the conditions on the Polunsky death row unit in Livingston Texas by going on a hunger strike.
Here is my interview with Reggie, from his death row cell, he speaks about his case, about his friend who he was accused of murdering, and shows how he is innocent.
Reggie, can you please give us a bio of yourself?
I was born blue behind my twin brother, Robert, in an Oakland California hospital. My dad retired from the Navy and we moved from Texas to be closer to my moma's side of the family, while getting away from California's earthquakes and rapidly growing gang culture. For 11 years I grew up in a household possessed by dad's alcoholism, and because dad would quit his jobs a lot, we had to move a lot. A new kid in the neighborhoods we moved to, I had to fight a lot, not necessarily to fit in, but to be left alone. Though initially fighting was something I didn't like to do, I had to eventually adapt to it's norms. Anyway early one morning mama rounded up my sister, brother, me and as much of our belongings we could fit into her bronco and moved us to an apartment she already had waiting, divorcing herself from dad, the fights, and from what alcoholism was doing to our lives.
However my relationship with mama was shattered by what I felt was stress-relieving, overkilling whippings she gave me. I held them against mama just as I did the divorce. Mama and I began arguing just as she and dad did. I would leave the house to either get into a fight at school, or on my way home from school, then again once I got home with mama. So when it came time to deciding whose rules I would live by, mama's or the subculture, both of which were diametrically opposed to one another, I chose the latter. especially since the family I identified with was outside mama's house. A family I identified with because we were all largely rebelling with anger against something we didn't understand. So living as one of them, I became one of them, a locc'd out crip.
Gangbanging and criminalism was the subculture norms, norms that led to my incarceration several times for non-felony crimes. After going to T. Y. C. (Texas Youth Commission), when I was 16, by the time I got out at 18, something about me changed. I wasn't changed by their so called "resocialization" program, but because I was disgusted with being caught up in the system, and the subculture that had me enslaved to it. Interesting enough, when I said "it" I meant both the "system," that is, the juvenile system as well as the subculture, both of which should be seen as part of the same body.
At the age of 16 I was already in the 10th grade. When I was released, if that is the appropriate word, from T. Y. C. I had my GED. I had intentions of taking T. Y. C. up on their offer of 2-years of free college education to become a licensed vocational nurse, but my parole officer John Rubulcava, refused to do the necessary paper work to make it happen. In what I felt was a dire attempt to save my life, which meant getting away from my parole officer who seemed more concerned with violating my parole by forcing me to work full time while reporting and doing more community service than he was allowed to give me each week all by city bus, then writing me up if I was late, I tried to get him to authorize, as they had done for another parolee, for me to take the A. S. V. A. B. after which if I passed, I would have been released from parole and into the hands of the military. But he flat out refused to even do this. So I took him to his supervisor who begged me to give him a chance, and I did. Then a week or so later, I was being snatched away from my girlfriend and her 4 year old son whom I wanted to adopt, for the Capital murder of a friend of mine.
Your currently on Texas Death Row, What was your conviction, and how long have you been on death row?
I've been on death row now for 7 years which can only be understood as lifetimes of incarnations. As for what I was convicted of, you are speaking of a different type of conviction that I only hope leaves people feeling convicted that the Judicial system, at least here in Texas is broken.
My brother Robert and his girlfriend Latoya arrived unexpected at my apartment, to cruise around and visit family and friends. With nothing to do, I left with them. Of the family and friends we visited with, Carlos Garza was one of them, or at least we tried to visit him. Here is where things get difficult to discuss.
When we left from Carlos's apartment after getting no response, we went to the other side of town to see some other friends. On our way to our respective homes, I asked my brother to stop by the pawn shop so I could pawn some jewelry. It was a last minuet decision on my part. What makes this difficult to talk about is the fact that the jewelry had previously belonged to Carlos. So this alone is supposed to infer my guilt. And, superficially, it would seem questionable. But while we were on the East side, the particular side of town we were leaving from before we stopped by the pawn shop, somebody was kicking in Carlos's door, killing him.
Carlos and I had always traded or rolled dice for jewelry we both wore. We always had a lot of jewelry that was expendable to the both of us. Besides I had been in a cleaning up process. I had moved in with my girlfriend and changed my job to be closer to our apartment. I had told her that after I sold the rest of my marijuana, I wasn't going to sell drugs anymore. I had already been pawning my jewelry, not because I needed money but because I was slowly cleaning myself up.
The District Attorney asked the question, which I couldn't answer because my trial attorneys wouldn't let me testify, why I had gone all the way to the other side of town to pawn jewelry when there were pawn shops in the vicinity of where Carlos lived. If I had testified I would have explained that I didn't "go all the way to the other side of town to pawn jewelry." The friends and my Dad we attempted to visit, who all lived in the same neighborhood as Carlos, was already on "the other side of town" from where my brother and I lived. We were just cruising, and seeing friends. The DA said "the other side of town" to imply we were running from something. Secondly, we went to "the other side of town" that is, the Eastside, to see some more friends, not to pawn jewelry. Again, pawning jewelry was a last minuet thought. We were there, I had some jewelry I was slowly getting rid of already, so I sold it. As for why a pawnshop on the Eastside instead of where Carlos lived? Not only wasn't I thinking about pawning anything, even if I had, a week or so prior when I attempted to pawn some jewelry at pawn shops in that area, they refused to give me anything close to the jewelry's value. My dad who had always pawned things, even warned me not to do business with the pawn shops in that area. But this is not it.
Two and a half months before Carlos's murder, his girlfriend took some pictures of Carlos and me together with some other friends. In these pictures, not only did he have on some of my jewelry, but I had on the very same jewelry I was pawning. There were also pictures of another mutual friend of ours wearing some of the same jewelry, which he had gotten from me. These pictures were admitted into evidence at trial. Furthermore, Carlos's girlfriend who took these pictures, and the mutual friend wearing the jewelry I had given to him both testified at trial that the jewelry did belong to me, and that Carlos and I had traded jewelry in the past. What does this all mean? That anybody that has something that previously belonged to their friend better not hope that friend is murdered? That's ridiculous! The real question is why was all this evidence overlooked?
The pawnshop was a rare incident of coincidence. Carlos was my friend. Kill him for jewelry? Cheap jewelry? If I was hard up for money like that, why didn't I take any of that money that was said to be just laying around his apartment? Then, why my friend instead of a stranger? It doesn't make sense. Besides, I'm not petty like that. I mean, I drove a Mercedes Benz. On top of it all, I'm loyal. Carlos and his cousin knew this. I've spent my money on them and was willing to die for them. They knew this. My realness is unquestionable. And though I have done some stupid things in my ignorant years, never would I pawn something I stole. That is beyond comprehension. It's a commonly known fact that pawned items are ran through the computer to determine if they are stolen.
I must emphasize we weren't the only one who went to Carlos's apartment before his murder either. A women that spent some time with him before his murder gave the police a description of a man with a silver 2-pac chain who threatened Carlos's life before he was found murdered in his apartment, yet the police couldn't find this man.
A few days later, my brother calls me to tell me homicide detectives called him and wanted to talk with him. He said that he was "going to see that they are talking about." I found out at trial what happened.
Robert and his girlfriend had been arguing outside my Dad's trailer, down the street from carlos's apartment. The manager of the trailer park called the police. When a police officer arrived, he tried to arrest Robert's girlfriend Latoya and was assaulted by her. Latoya wasn't only charged with assault on a public servant, but for failure to ID and was also arrested for outstanding warrants. Another police officer arrived and transferred Latoya to his patrol car, then drove across the street from the trailer park to a church parking lot. where the investigator that was investigating Carlos's death walked over and told the police officer to take Latoya to homicide. She was in a vulnerable position and connected to the "Blanton Boys."
When she arrived to the homicide office, the detectives force-fed her information on how they thought Carlos was murdered and told her if she didn't sign a statement against either my brother or me, they were going to lock her up for Capital murder. How does this play in the mind of a young pregnant women? So she signed the statement typed by the detectives, placing me as Carlos's murderer, and get this, while comparing me to 2-pac in an attempt to connect me with the silver chain worn by the man they couldn't find, a man that came out in trial to be somebody else. On top of it all, after Latoya was coerced to sign the statement, she was released from the homicide office. She never saw a jail cell, and all her charges were dropped immediately. When we questioned the arresting officer during trial about what happened to Latoya's charges of assault on a public servant, failure to ID, and all her outstanding warrants, he said "I don't know". .."You don't know"? No, they know, and know so don't the people.
The homicide detectives strategically used her to further coerce my brother, whom they called and merely asked to come to their office. And though Robert thought it was just a matter of going there, after he got there, they not only threatened to lock him up on Capital murder charges if he didn't sign a statement against me, but they threatened to lock up his pregnant girlfriend. He testified at trial that he was scared and signed the statement to get out of there. He said he didn't fathom the nightmare his signature would lead to.
This nightmare has ruined my relationship with my twin brother for many reasons I feel are important to emphasize, as they are revelatory of the deleteriou effects this vicious cycle of death called Capital punishment has beyond the condemned. Before trial Robert had visited with me a few times. And though the telephones were monitered, the district attorney tried to persuade the jury to believe I was using these monitored visits to persuade my brother to lie for me. Over the years we ended up growing apart as opposed to witnessing each others individual growth. So, in the few times we've communicated over the past several years. it has been disconcerting to not find the level of communication we expected, we once shared. You see what I'm saying? Now, because of this traumatizing experience, though my brother wants to share emotions with me he has been holding inside, he's afraid that doing so might be misconstrued by the courts as inference of my guilt.
But I can imagine what my brother feels, he most likely feels that he let me down by allowing these detectives to manipulate him against me, his twin, his heart, his soul, and for something I didn't do. But I need him to understand that my love for him is one that can't be devoured by this predatory system, one that was only concerned with using him.
The other day in utter disgust, I finally threw away the only letter I had from my brother, one in which he was fighting to express emotions, another part of him was fighting to conceal. And as I say this, I feel like puking. Never, I mean never, has he told me he wanted to kill himself except for in that letter. I feel like I've lost my brother. My mama and step-pops has even said he's not the same. And just a couple of months ago, his girlfriend, a new girlfriend, searched me out and left a message on my Myspace page maintained for me by a loved one, concerned about my brother. Here's a women I've never met telling me that all my brother does is talk about me. She was also trying to find out the significance of the number 7. because it was a number my brother was distraught over. I told her my brother thought as I did, that I was going to be murdered by the state last year, 2007. She said he's holding something inside that is tearing him apart and that she is losing her boyfriend.
This death penalty thing is a Frankenstein. a living death that destroys lives. There is no healing in it. None! We are only killing ourselves spiritually, morally, and physically, by letting it go on it's rampage.
Well, anyway, as we prepared for trial the DAs offered me a capital murder life sentence if I didn't force them to spend money by taking my case to trial where they would seek death against me. However, when I went back to court for an evidentiary hearing concerning my state habeas appeal on my wrongful conviction, when my appellant attorney, Scott Sullivan, asked the district attorney that tried my case, Tamura Butler, to take the stand, I found it peculiar that when she was asked if she offered me a plea-deal she lied, saying she hadn't and that doing such wasn't the practice in the DAs office.
Only later, after reading Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall's opinion in Furman Vs. Georgia, the 1972 case on which the death penalty was abolished, I realized why Tamura Butler had lied. You see, Thurgood Marshall said, DAs can't claim the death penalty as a deterrent to crime if they use it to manipulate defendants to plea for a lesser offense. What I'm trying to say, is how can they claim that I'm such a "severe threat to society" that I need to be killed by lethal chemicals that they cannot even use on animals, after offering to keep me alive if I didn't take them to trial? Hypocritical!
I know I'm being a bit long winded, but it is vital that the people are made aware of how carefully constructed my case and conviction was. When we paneled the venire members, that is, called the 100 people from which we were going to compose our jury to come into the courtroom, after Tamura Butler made a comment to my attorney about a black juror being the sole "holdout" juror in a previous trial, which led to a mistrial, she called for a jury shuffle, shuffling all the African American venire-members who were seated in the front of the courtroom, to the back. This was her first attempt to keep African Americans off my jury. She was hoping that we would amass a jury before interviewing them in a process called voir dire. And listen to that, "them." Here it is 2008 and we are still dealing with the "them" pheneomenon.
Well, we fought our way through interviewing each venire member until we finally made it to our first African African venire member. Yet, minus one, the district attorney only ended up using her peremptory challenges or strikes, which the defense gets the same number of, to exclude the rest of the African Americans from serving on a jury. In light of the comment Tamura Butler made about the holdout African American jury and her jury shuffle, my court appointed attorneys raised a "Batson" claim, requiring her to give "race neutral" reasons for using peremptory strikes, which may be used to strike a venire member for any reason except race or religion. Little surprise Tamura Butler's reasons were deemed "race-neutral" by the presiding judge, Juanita Vasquez-Gardner.
During my appeal, after examining the transcripts of the interviews of each venire member it was revealed that Tamura Butler asked questions differently toward those that became jury members than she had the African Americans she kept off. Whereas she educated the former as to the application of the law, she left the latter to their own misconceptions as to justify excluding them from serving on my jury based on their so-called inability to apply the appropriate law. Then when we, my trial attorney, educated them of the law and they said that they could apply it accordingly, Tamura Butler claimed "vacillation," swaying opinion, as her race-neutral reason for striking African Americans from serving on mv jury. A classic example of using a persons ignorance against them.
Going back to my State Habeas Corpus evidentiary hearing, after Tamura Butler took the stand, my attorney had also asked her what her reasons were for her jury shuffle. She said that she wanted to move to the back venire members that were defense attorneys, social workers, and teachers, while moving to the front those with ties to law enforcement. However in the first 20 venire members, where 3 of the 5 African Americans on the panel sat, there was only one teacher and nobody with any of. the occupations she said she was trying to shuffle to the back of the courtroom. The Federal Court Judge recently ruled in my case that the jury shuffle was "racially motivated" and that Tamura Butler's race neutral reason for her peremptory strike against against one African American was "more rationalization than ratinale." Yet contradicting himself, the Federal Judge Orlando Garcia, unbelievably denied my claim that this prosecutor, Tamura Butler racially excluded African Americans from serving on my jury.
Yet this is not, the extent of Tamura Butler's prosecutorial misconduct.The Northwestern University School of Law, Center on Wrongful Convictions, compiled a study called "The Snitch System" in which they reveal that the first; wrongful conviction involved a "snitch." The study also revealed that of the 111 exonerated from death row, about half, 45.9% involved snitches. What is this about? Every study I've read most cases I've read, as well as most studies I've heard from people on death row right now had a "snitch" mostly "jailhouse-snitches;" involved in their convictions.
When I was going to trial my lawyer asked me if I knew a Frank Trujiilo. I told him that the the name wasn't recognizable. My lawyer told me this person knew me and would be testifying against me. One day after going back to the county jail from trial, I saw this one prisoner in the legal booths in booking I had been locked up around. I threw my head back to say "what"s up" to him, you know, just to say hello. He faintly moved his head to say "what's up" back, but his expression struck me. It was like he was either shocked or didn't recognize me. I just kept on stepping to my destination.
Then came the day during trial when this Frank Trujiilo was supposed to testify against me. Into the courtroom walked the same person I had said "what's up" to that day I came back from court. I was beyond words. On that stand he told one lie after another. He said that we were friends in the freeworld though I didn't meet him until I was locked up in the county 6 for this crime. He said that I use to give him drugs "under the table" at this motel he supposedly worked at to pay for the room. He even said that I came to the motel one day trying to sell him a gun of the same caliber used to murder Carlos.
When I was being booked for Carlos's murder I was thrown into a small room with about 15 people sitting around me. Everybody was asking everybody what they were in for." When I was asked I said "for the Capital Murder of my friend." When somebody else asked if I did it I emphatically said "hell nah" But this jailhouse snitch Frank Trujillo who was also present in this room which is when I first met him, said on the stand that I had bragged about killing Carlos in front of all these strangers. I was enraged. But what could I do about it? I wanted to curse him out but that would have only made me look worse. On top of it all my trial lawyers had me strapped in a testifying straitjacket. This trial is the reason why I now have high-blood pressure.
Another day when I came to my lynching of a trial, as I walked past the one-man holding cells behind the courtroom, I passed one cell where Tamura Butler a pretty prosecutor I might add, sat next to this same jailhouse snitch, knee to knee, talking to her. When they saw me they sort of stared at me shocked, like I caught them doing what I thought as I walked off: Tamura Butler using her sex-appeal to further coax Frank Trujillo to stay the course in their plot to kill me.
During my appeal I asked my court-appointed federal attorney what had happened to this jailhouse snitch. He said though he had several felonies pending in several states, after my wrongful conviction, all he received was 1-year, time served. He went home.
Judge Paul J. Kelly Jr. said "If justice is perverted when a. criminal defendant seeks to buy testimony from a witness it is no less perverted when the Government does so."Where does it all stop? Little wonder why the majority of brothers here on Texas' death row subsist in various levels of despair. Here recently, we just lost another brother to suicide. That's some 4 suicides in about as many years. It's enough to be urged by an inmate force toward self-preservation, only to have your hands tied as you watch your own murder approach you; let alone to be encaged falsely under sensory-depriving conditions with a case like mine, as many brothers have; a case of endless corruption too much to begin breaking down. So what do most of these brothers do? They sit, silenced, until they are silently murdered by the state, if they don't silently kill themselves.
Are you innocent?
As for your question of "innocence" I cringe at that word. What does it mean? Obviously it has lost meaning to most Americans, or more specifically, citizens of Texas since they didn't demand abolition or at the bare minimum, a moratorium on the death penalty when this Lone Star State killed Todd Willingham, Gary Graham, Francis Newton, Justin Fuller, and lord knows who else that was also innocent. I sort of feel ashamed of that word "innocence." Probably because I'm ashamed of being here. I don't know how else to explain how that word makes me feel. It's not enough to be innocent here in America. You either better have DNA evidence or a video of you at another location at the precise moment of the crime, to prove your innocence. What does this mean for people with a messy case like mine? Constant refusals from law firms I've contacted to help me? Certainly everybody doesn't have cases where there were DNA evidence.
This whole system will make you feel guilty without really knowing why. I think innocence needs to be redefined because we are dealing with a situation that goes beyond the black and white lines of guilt and innocence which, when we are talking about capital punishment, respectively means life in prison or a death sentence and freedom. What 1 mean is, what if I was indeed guilty? Does this take away from the man I have finally become? My redemption? Anybody who is keen enough to see who I really am through my words, let alone my activism, knows the ghettos and hoods need people like me as much as they did Tookie Williams, to encourage growth and development.
Texas, if not the whole American Judicial System, has a policy of condemnation that never takes into consideration that change is an inherent part of human nature. I mean, Texas' prison industrial complex is less concerned. with true rehabilitation, and more with mere imprisonment. This says it all. I guess I will say that I've seen too many brothers around here who admit that they were guilty for their crimes but it was clear that they were changed men that could change the communities that they came from. yet their stories were poisoned and their value died on that gurney with a needle in its arm. So what is innocence?
Do you feel that your lifestyle and gang association had anything to do with your false conviction?
I absolutely do. They placed a spotlight on me. Police officers referring to my brother and I as the "Blanton Boys" or "Blanton Twins"? That says a lot. It's one of the reasons why I was cleaning up my look. I was even in the process of downgrading my car from a Mercedes to something more practical. These things made me a target. Then when you get in the courtroom and you have golds in your mouth, Varsace glasses, tattoos, and you are a member of the "notorious CRIPS" with a criminal history? It doesn't matter how petty that criminal history is. It doesn't matter that you don't "gangbang.". Skilled prosecutors will scare the average juror into believing you are dangerous. I guess the real question is how do you become dangerous just because you have these things? Perhaps because when these images are arranged right, they become symbols that tap into and dances with those misconceptions that dwell in the subconscious of each juror.
Do you feel you was railroaded? How?
I do feel I was railroaded and not only because of what I've already said, but consider this: Carlos' apartment door was kicked in. Detectives were able to take a clear close-up picture of the tread-print left on the door. The shoes I wore the entire day of Carlos' murder was taken by police to be examined for blood-splatter and anything else that would link me to his murder. Of course they didn't find anything. However, I told my trial lawyer, Anthony Cantrell, to get these shoes to show the jury that the 12-inch shoe-print on Carlos' door wasn't mine. These shoes are a size 9. But my own attorney grilled me about it, saying "Okay, okay, we're going to get them right now!" as if I was lying and to see if I would freeze up. Needless to say, he never got the shoes.
Railroaded? I presented to my State Habeas Corpus attorney, Scott Sullivan, several vital claims for him to include in the appeal he was supposedly filing for me, one of which was about my shoes not matching the shoe-print on the door. It was especially important that he included all the claims possible at this particular stage of my appeal because if he didn't whichever claims he left out would be lost forever, barred from ever being raised in later appeals. Different character, same plot. Mr. Sullivan refused to raise these innocent claims in my appeal. So I compiled all the carbon-copies of letters I sent him, pleading to him to file my claims, and went to the court with it all. Judge Juanita Vasquez-Gardner, of the 399th District court in San Antonio, how my own attorney refused to represent my legal interest. But she utterly ignored what I sent to her certified mail. So, then I went to the State Bar of Texas about what Scott Sullivan had done to my appeal but they felt he had not committed any professional misconduct and referred me back to Juanita Vasquez-Gardner's court. I was ignored and swept under the rug with all the other silenced.
When my Federal attorney attempted to file these claims to the Federal court, the Federal judge said the claims were procedurally barred from being heard without even considering how I diligently sought to have my legal interest represented, only to be ignored by my state habeas attorney, the judge over my State Habeas Corpus appeal, who was also my trial judge, and even the State Bar of Texas, who is supposed to make sure that lawyers do their jobs. This stuff makes me sick.
What stage is your appeals at?
My appeal is now in the notorious 5th circuit court of appeals. If they deny me justice, my last resort, at least judicially, will be the Supreme Court.
How do you spend your time on Death Row?
I try to divide my day into 8-hours of rest, 8 hours of self-reflection, research, and 8-hours of writing. Because I'm largely at war with Maya, the Sanskrit term for illusion, I'm fighting my self-illusions, seeking to realize my Highest self. I have found this is the only way I'm able to find that space inside the pyramid of my being imperturbable by the harmonious-chaos that surrounds me. From this place I find my inner-strength which I hope shines forth as inspiration for all these brothers here on the row. From this place I find the strength to delve into intense studies, searching for keys, keys that may unlock within me insights, solutions to the problems that plague us within these walls, and the us outside these wails; that is, our brothers and sisters in freeworld society.
This is why I have embraced the name Omari Huduma, which is Swahili for "The Highest Service." Not only do I strive to realize omari; the highest, that is, my highest self, but I dedicate my life to the upliftment of my sisters and brothers as the highest huduma, that is, service I have to give. Together with my cadre of brothers, Christopher Young, Gabriel Gonzalez, Robert Will, and Kenneth Foster, who is now serving a life sentence, we have breathed life into a movement we call D.R.I.V.E.: Death Row Inner-Communalist Vanguard Engagement. We are fighting for the abolition of the Death Penalty and as humane living conditions as possible as long as we must be confined under an inhumane sentence of death. We're fighting by, not only educating the public of the atrocious and far-reaching nature cf the Death Penalty, but by hopefully being representative of the hope and human dignity that still exist within these walls of death. We have taken Direct Action within these walls of death nonviolently protesting these sensory-depriving conditions and for better treatment by this administration.
We dedicate a lot of time toward helping brothers within these wails overcome their self-illusions, whether it be racism or misogyny, while trying to them to see that they shouldn't just give themselves to a man-made demise as their fate because they still have worth, one worth fighting for, be are literally fighting from the inside out in every sense.
What are your feelings about the death sentence?
It's counter-justice. It doesn't promote healing with the victims' family it creates extended victims with the prisoners' family, it ignores the humanity of the condemned, it hardens the hearts of those that in some way or some form promotes the process leading up to the condemned' state sanctioned murder and it takes not only tax-dollars away from rehabilitation programs badly needed but it takes the lives of those the condemned, who could very well promote the rehabilitation of others that will identify more with them than anybody else.
The death penalty is racially inclined do you see this as a form of genocide?
You know genocide is defined as the systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group. Though the death penalty is racially inclined, if racism wasn't a factor, it would be harder for District Attorneys to secure convictions, we would still be speaking of a systematic destruction via the Judicial Persecution System of a cultural group or as I would rather say those largely from the subculture. And the bottom line will always be the bottom class. If brothers and sisters on death row could afford a topnotch defense team, they would not be on death row. If we look at those that made it off death row, it was largely one of two factors that played a role in it: They either had a law firm or innocence project fighting for their lives, or a mass grassroots movement.
What abuses have you and others endured at the Polunsky Death Row Unit?
I watched as a neighbor of mine, Kenneth Clark, died in his cage because medical refused to help him. Geronimo Gutierrez is suffering from a painful medical condition and the medication he is being given is not taking away his pain. Michael Sigala's sinus condition has gotten so bad that fluid has built up in one of his ears to the point that he has lost all his hearing in that ear, and the medication provided to him is not enough, medical has a notorious unwritten policy of only being concerned about a death row prisoners' health only if their lives are in immediate jeopardy. As long as we are alive until the state kills us, they have served their purpose.
Our grievance system is broken. Generally, grievances either come up missing or we get run-around responses to them. Some of the food they dish us is uneatable. Some brothers who are suffering from mental illnesses are mistreated by officers who don't know how to deal with them. Officers refuse to feed or recreate some of them.
As for my brothers in the DRIVE movement, as a result of our nonviolent protest, we have been subjected to excessive uses of force, be have been denied food, recreation, and showers. We have had all our property taken away from us against policy. We've had our mail tampered with or sometimes thrown away.There was even one occasion where I was forced I mean carried into a cage smeared in feces and urine.
How can the public help you?
I need an attorney that will aggressively fight for my life as if it were their own in the Supreme Court should my 5th circuit appeal get denied. This attorney may just want to work in conjunction with my Federal attorney. This attorney needs to be knowledgeable in the law as it pertains to procedural default. Likewise, if my case is reversed, I will need an attorney to aggressively represent me at another trial.
My plight needs as much media exposure as possible specifically here in Texas not only emphasizing the injustices in a wrongful conviction, but also my genesis into manhood, my self-evolution my redemption, in spite of charges that I would never amount to anything.
I need people to relentlessly pursue firstly influential people that are against the Death Penalty such as senator Rodney Ellis, Green Party's presidential candidate and former Georgia senator, Cynthia McKinney, or Green Party presidential candidate from San Antonio, Gate Swift and those like them to persuade them to use their influence to persuade the Texas State Bar to accept and entertain the grievance I'm trying to file against Scott Sullivan for refusing to represent me; since the first grievance I attempted to file against him was classified as an "inquiry" and dismissed. We need pressure on the Texas State Bar to do the right thing. This grievance can be found on my myspace page. We also need these influential people to persuade others Iike them to stand with them in their demand for true justice in my case.
I need people to use my plight as a means to further build the grassroots movement to abolish the Death Penalty. I need people especially here in Texas and if they are not in Texas to persuade people they may know here in Texas to be willing to take to the streets; to be my voice and the voice for the voiceless; to distribute literature on my plight everywhere they go. Until someone enlightens me of a more viable approach this is the only way I believe we can level this imbalanced scale of so-called justice.
Do you have anything on the Internet about your case?
(Please see the links at the end of the interview) (reggies myspace no longer available) has been closed down after reg was executed, and all his articles put to a website)
At this time if there is anything you would like to add to the interview please do so.
I need to say this to Carlos' Mama: Ma'am if that was you staring at me when my defense attorneys told me to sit facing those seated in the courtroom if you are wondering what I tried to say to you I said "I didn't do it." I can't find the words to encase what I feel about the pain you have gone through. Your lost is mine. Though I don't know what you still feel I will say I hurt not only because of all that has grown out of Carlos murder but every time the state of Texas kills one of my brothers.
And their guilt or innocence doesn't affect one way or another this pain I feel. Just as I believe if Carlos was ever sent to death row and the state of Texas killed him, whether he was guilty or not wouldn't affect one way or another the pain that you would feel. The more important thing is I offer all the love of my being to you and your family. I mean all the love of my being everything I am. And Ms. Garza please let me say also I would like for you to consider meeting my Mama. Because I believe you will see yourself in her as well as her pain. May love all our love, heal your wounds. I fight so mothers like yourself and family members for that matter wont have these wounds.
Dee, thank you from the depths of my soul for giving me this opportunity. Being able to spill all these things from my cup has done something to me. Thank you